selected and his conversations with lyndon johnson and doubt whether he thought lyndon johnson was going to pick up the phone and call him. tell the story. >> guest: steve i use that as the start of the book in fact because buildings and narrative his experience in that moment tells you so much about the security issue that you just touched on in another moment in his life as he gets on to the court but right from the start, he is the solicitor general of the united states in the johnson administration, and he worries that he is not going to get this opening before the supreme court nomination. and he hears the president lyndon johnson is considering other black men, worried that he is to controversy and because his history as the director of the former, former director of the naacp defense and education fund. worried that he does not have a perfect record as solicitor
general and that president johnson were he to have a perfect record so that he could respond to james eastland, the senator from mississippi and others who were going to question the first black person to be nominated aggressively. to see if the had communist connections because of the naacp and all that. even questioned his drinking. so in that moment, thurgood marshall runs in to president johnson at a party. he knows that johnson is when to be there and he guards himself and puts on a good suit and goes to the party. and johnson sees him, pulls him aside and tell him you're not going to get the job, and thurgood marshall fields so deflated of course he plays the role, please set out like no big deal. i didn't come here thinking it was going to be my job but it's the next day when he is in his office supposed to go to the white house to speak to a bunch of visiting students and he's told stop by the oval office, say hello to the president and
when he does so the president spent what was a ticker in the oval office bringing the latest from the wire services and the president says you know, thurgood, i am going to put you on the court and thurgood marshall los ploch, oh my god what did you say? and it is just for him a moment so satisfying it was his dream come true. >> host: what does that tell about lyndon johnson? >> guest: he was a game player always pulling people stream. he always wanted you to know he had control of the situation, he was bigger than you and you were someone who was a puppet and his game. >> host: one of the reviews in "new york times" when it came out in 1998, and i want to fast forward to the end of the term, 1991 because the editorial says he left the court not in victoria's spirit but anguish over a task that remains
woefully incomplete. >> guest: he felt in terms of transforming the country increase in so many ways the country was headed back words. it's ironic because what a life of accomplishment and you imagine this person would have a sense that he had led a complete life he achieved so much. he is born 1908 baltimore maryland and when he dies in the 1990's lives in every decade of 20th century he is literally transformed the country in so many ways if you think about 1896 policy versus ferguson separate but equal and by the mid sentry brown v. board of education which is his handiwork of the naacp legal defense fund she turned the government from position of enforcing segregation as a legitimate way to treat black citizens to one in which the government says we are going to stand tall not only in terms of schoolhouse door in topeka kansas but then of course it needs to what takes place in
a schoolhouse doors in terms of universities and mississippi and alabama and the like, leads to argue played a great march on washington, passage of the civil rights voting act. all the transformation of society and yet when he gets on the court especially after rural warren leaves, in comes other chief justice's but especially rehnquist i think he feels he's shunted to the left wing of the court with his friend bill brennan and that people aren't listening to him and he's not having the opportunity to shape the law at that point, that he's just dealing with what he views as a reactionary white wing constantly undercutting not only affirmative action, undercut with balky and continue to undercut time and again and he thinks all he can do at that point is right this and hope that the dissidents become the basis for future majority opinions when the court changes its composition. >> host: in fact in describing him you use the word exceptional, exceptional family growing up in exceptional place
in baltimore. >> guest: what a fascinating history. for me, juneau, steve, what happened i had written on is on the prize, a book about the american civil rights movement, and in the course of doing the research for that book had come across the idea that wait a minute, there is one historic figure in this book still alive, still an active person in american society, thurgood marshall who sits on the supreme court. this is the late 1980's and i thought he lives the same city i live in, nobody ever speaks of the sky. there is no great biography on thurgood marshall. how can it be so i began writing notes to him making calls to his friends, former law clerks asking to i have access to justice marshall and the answer overwhelmingly was no way. he doesn't talk to reporters. he's still mad about things like bob woodward's book he is portrayed as something of a buffoon. just reporters don't understand and treat him badly and the way
he views himself is as someone who has stayed on the court despite having suffered everything from a bout of pneumonia that almost killed him to broken up bones to the rightward shift on the court that he is there member on the court and there are no women, no minorities that any other kind, no hispanics for certain, so he is their feeling like i'm the first person here who has ever had to defend someone in a capital crime where life was on the line and i am the only one that understands what it's like to be involved in an abortion case. he was that kind of lawyer, hands on so he's there and struggling and absolutely angry at reporters even when his former friend, carl rowan, famous columnist tried to help him do a book deal exploded. the book was supposed be thurgood marshall's autobiography if you will and he couldn't stand the questions
coming from karlan about cases he had lost. so he just is not the kind of person who wants to talk or wants to share but after i finished eyes on the price and had come back to work at "the washington post" i continued sending notes out to the supreme court and finally got a call one day asking me to come up. he said he wanted to have tea and i don't particularly like to eat. it's okay but is this an interview, is it not an interview, what is it? and he kind of hung up on me. he had trouble reaching me. he had to go through katherine gramm a publisher in the paper to reach me and it was a surprise. i called around town why has thurgood marshall finally said yes after all these years that the key for me but all of a sudden to hear his voice and understand he was such an exceptional person in the last century that arguably he's the great architect of race relations as we know it and as we coming to the 21st century in
a much more diverse multiracial society continues to welcome immigrants and be a beacon and around the world where people believe there is racial religious tolerance. so much of that framework in terms of how we understand american law today can be directly traced to thurgood marshall's work everything from the end of restrictive covenants to keep blacks, jews, hispanics after certain neighborhoods to the right of all races to serve on juries, treatment of blacks in the military, obviously equal education, that's all thurgood marshall's handiwork. >> host: first of every month kuran booktv a distinguished author, juan williams, with his sixth books and he's with us the next three hours. as always phone lines are open. the numbers on the bottom of the screen. 202-737-0002 for those of you on the eastern time zone. 202-737-0001 for the rest of you. you can also go to our twitter
at riss or send an e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org. i'm going to ask about "eyes on the prize" but let me ask about the final years of thurgood marshall. he didn't want to leave the court, did he? >> guest: not at all. he used to say he wanted to leave the court shocked by a jealous husband, and in a more serious when he was saying when president johnson gave the appointment it was a lifetime appointment and he intended to serve and he felt times for example jimmy carter never had a supreme court appointment and when jimmy carter was coming towards the end of his term he made noises and send messages, thurgood marshall said, suggesting maybe if he stepped down he would arrange for another black person to take that job. marshall was in bad health and grumpy and not all that content. and thurgood marshall pretty much used profanity in response to the messenger and to president carter saying you know what, this is my job, i'm doing it. i was put here for a reason and
it's not for you to judge and he became highly cantankerous and people would complain about his behavior, but he didn't have any desire to leave that job. he saw that as the capstone of his life and arguably it was. >> host: what did he think of clarence thomas? >> guest: it's interesting because most people who come up to me and ask this question assume there was a great deal of antagonism between the two. in fact i am told by people who were with justice marshall during the controversy will thomas hearings, remember thomas and anita hill that justice marshall at one point began to cry and the reason is he thought people were not taking the future justice thomas seriously. they didn't understand what a young man he was, how long he would be on the court, the impact he would have. in a press conference he had at that time he renounced retirement from the court justice marshall had spoken about their not being a black seat on the court no need to
replace him with a black person and he said a blacksnake is the same as a white snake his father taught him, both will bite you. this was in reference to justice thomas, this was in general and i think the suggestion how justice marshall felt there was no one person who could replace him. he had a strong sense of ego even as he was in secure, and so when justice thomas is finally confirmed, justice thomas and arranges to have a sit down, cup of coffee or cup of tea with all the members of the court, get to know you moment and they typically lasted 15 minutes, half an hour but he also arranged to meet the man who was his predecessor, thurgood marshall in a chamber in the upper level of the court, and because in fact thomas takes his chambers and so he goes up to meet with him and instead of lasting 15 minutes to half an hour it lasts three hours, this conversations and according to both sides it was a good
conversation which marshall did most of the talking and marshall basically welcomes him to the court and says you've got to leave a lot of the partisan political static that attended your confirmation hearings out of the court because the american people have to believe in the supreme court. we don't have an army here, they believe in our credibility and trust in us so you have to come here as a member of the cord family and understand even though you may disagree with people these are people you are living with and people you are in conversation and conference with and they become your brethren and they spoke a little bit about marshall's view of civil rights and the black man's role in terms of the court and talked about his experience with the law and was quite a contrast because marshall, a lot in a fairly middle class family coming out of baltimore maryland. obviously justice thomas wrote in poverty in georgia and so here with these two men talking, marshall talking much more in terms of support for affirmative
action changing the constitution so that the constitution had been so punitive and allowed oppression, sleeper evin of black people would now allow black people to rise up and gain measure of equality and thomas became more in terms to understand how you can write a game that had been so long for it but then deciding you've just got to be race neutral and remove race from the equation rather than be race conscious to then engage in i guess what justice thomas would view as reverse discrimination. >> host: another point and then bringing in the viewers, you write the second civil war which as you mentioned earlier began with "eyes on the prize" and i want to show an excerpt of the documentary that coordinated with this book but how did that come about? how did this book come out? >> guest: it's a wonderful story. henry hampton who is the father of "eyes on the prize" because he came up with the idea to do the documentary and i must say henry is now gone but he is one
of my mentors and he was a friend and someone who struggled to make this reality. he had been working as a puerto rico spokesman and had gone down to selma at that time when he was working as a spokesman for the unitarian church when jim reed was killed, a white minister had gone down to explain why this white minister was involved and was overwhelmed by the kind of panoramic trauma of the movement and he thought, you know, young man wanting to be a filmmaker he came back later and began making small commercials, advertisements for the military and the government and again kept that he would make his civil rights documentary after the tremendous success routes have on abc he had entrusted their but they wanted it to be like a song and dance drama and they were thinking about maybe sammy davis playing martin luther king and henry said that isn't what i'm
talking about. i'm talking about the real story and went about trying to raise money for this and as he got the film project going and then one of the sources of revenue that became apparent was potentially a book and that is when he came to me so this was early in the process and i was at that time covering the reagan white house for "the washington post" and there was only so much you could get so i was using this on the outlook or news and reviews section to write these longer pieces about what was going on with race relations in the country under reagan and henry had seen these pieces and liked them and thought they were interesting so he invited me to boston to talk about how i would tell the story of the american civil rights movement and there were so many people he was bringing, producers and filmmakers at the time and they were having schools with people who were academics and students of the civil-rights era and i felt at times out of step with them because they were so strong the partisan in the way they wanted to tell the story and when henry and others asked how
i would tell the story i would say let's just let street because it is an american wonderful story full of natural heroes and villains you don't have to kill lee just tell the story straight and so i went away thinking henry is never going to hire me and sure enough he calls and says that six ackley what i want for the story and you can do a level of research and writing that will never be evident in the film because the time constraints and the like but help us tell the story. so that is how the project gets started so i took some time off from the post in the mid 80's and wrote "eyes on the prize." >> host: to root in the outlook section -- we might need more than three hours to get this in. let me show the audience an excerpt of the documentary that cannot when? >> guest: the book was published i believe it was an early 88, and it's just before the documentary goes on pbs in 1988 as well. >> host: here is part of the "eyes on the prize." ♪
>> and eight in your period in the 1950's and 1960's, americans bought a second revolution. it was fought in the south by black people and white. it was fought in the streets, in churches, in court, and school. it was fought to make america be america for all its citizens. these were america's civil rights leaders. >> host: how would you describe this period in the 1950's to the young african-americans who only read about it through history books? and we should point out the year you were born, 1954. >> guest: exactly. what was interesting to me is i went on a book tour for "eyes on the prize" realizing how many people hadn't lived through this year, and this was of course
than the late 80's and early 90's. so today it is overwhelming. most americans today, a quarter of the population are under 18. they have no concept. with a new is martin luther king is a hero or to be viewed as a hero, viewed positively although we get some younger people who think that he's just an image, they want a more militant figure. like malcolm x that would stand up, sort of the defiant black lace. then you get people who don't understand. they -- something like a colored blanking fountain, just bizarre or you get white kids who don't understand how recent so many of these indignities and limits in terms of educational and economic opportunities were put out by black people. so in a way it's like having a conversation with people who feel they know all about race because everyone thinks they're so immersed in the racial conversation but in terms of the history, black and white oftentimes have no idea and so it's like you're bringing news to them when you have a discussion of this and it's
always been a challenge for me to tell the history in such a way to bring it to light and i think is best done through characters. bye getting them to understand what human beings were going through and that period. >> host: we welcome sean joining from vancouver in british columbia. go ahead, please. call correctly and in vancouver, washington. mr. williams, for decades now we have heard when it comes to public schools, hospitals, other infrastructure projects in general, the constitute something like a martial plan for america or peace dividend for winning the cold war that there just isn't the money for it. and that, you know, it would grow the size of the national debt. the we've also been hearing over the years as we have experienced the industrialization and the deregulation and passed so-called free trade agreements that we had to do something because the scientific laws of the free market economics all of which have now been totally contradicted by the t.a.r.p. and ideals of fiscal discipline so i
guess what i am getting at, professor, mr. williams, is it seems the bodies of black children, poor black children and bodies of poor white children are not too big to fail. i guess they are too small to matter and instead of being too interconnected a bigger to disconnected. they don't have lobbyists on the hill. so we see health care reform as pieces on the floor. these wall street parasites have taken over the government and in my opinion the civil-rights movement, the union movement, women's rights, none of that, even gandhi in india would have gotten away if it weren't for the soviet union looming in the background and seems to me until we reach a point in which poor people are organized and willing to struggle against the fell wall street capitalists we are going to continue to see it will back of the human rights and the civil rights movement and the labor movement, something of
comment please. >> host: thank you from washington state. >> guest: sean, i don't think we are in any danger seeing a rollback in the civil rights movement that transformed america. we have other groups everybody from the american indians latino, gay rights groups, children's groups who emulated the strategy that thurgood marshall used to transform the law of america and allow for a quality and inclusion. i think what you're talking about is more the economic bases and increasing class gratification we see in the united states today and i am reminded that i remember sitting with thurgood marshall and singing to him if he were a young man today going forward in your legal career what would you be doing, would you be putting your legal energy into? and he surprised me because he said, you know, he put represent children because he said children don't seem to have any kind of legal rights in this country that if you are under
18, if you have bad parents, bad schools, if people are exploiting you in terms of everything from gangs to police, you have no standing in the court and he felt that children should have legal rights. so when i hear sean in vancouver talk about people exploiting bodies of little black and white children that, you know, the wall street people getting away what sort of leading the economy and so many of the social policies that would benefit the most in the country i think back to marshall's insistence that part of this has to do with making sure young people have rights and legal standing. >> host: our twitter address is book tv@si two. -- book tv@c-span2. >> caller: i'm talking to mr. williams and you because sometimes i see his lips moving
and i am not hearing anything or i am hearing him and his lips are not moving. >> host: there is a little delay on cable but we can hear you, go ahead and the juan williams will respond. >> caller: i have great respect for you and by the way, you said that you were born one year before they tried to end the university -- i am in tuscaloosa across from the university and i noticed you with brac hume -- [inaudible] very intelligent person but it appears to me sometimes you cater to bret him and they seem to be two of the most intolerant -- that comes on as new analysis. would you answer that question and then i have another. do you cater to those people? >> guest: i think they're smart people and they are my
colleagues at fox news, so often at fox news which is more conservative that is the niche that fox news occupies i find myself having to react to them and engage and debate them so when they have a good point i acknowledge it but i think i am there to bring up different points of view and make sure that the discussion has variety and from my point of view reality because i think oftentimes they can go off to the right side of the political spectrum. >> caller: [inaudible] >> guest: i'm sorry? >> caller: you call them conservative by donner call them in tolerant. in reference to jerry thomas, the first president bush i don't think he intended to have another black man on the court. i think what he did, he gave, it wasn't -- clarence thomas at the time because he thought he wasn't going to get confirmed and he would get that i gave a black man, you did not confirm now i need to get a white
person. i think he wanted to keep the court white man. that's my opinion because i don't think that he thought that mr. thomas at the time was the most experienced to be on the court and you can't compare him with what i observe of thurgood marshall. >> host: we will get a response. thank you, robert. >> caller: >> guest: i think that clarence thomas is qualified to be on the court. it's not about somebody seeing is this person better than that person. it's about politics and certainly clarence thomas is a conservative and george herbert walker bush wanted a conservative presence on the court. i remember covering clarence thomas early on. justice thomas was a source for me when he was first education department and the eeoc and later on district of columbia court of appeals and i must tell you it's interesting people in the reagan and bush
administration oftentimes view him as not sufficiently conservative. they wished he was more outspoken and there were people in the reagan and bush administrations who fought clarence thomas should be outspoken. he should take on some of these issues. but you look and he transformed equals planas opportunity commission, brought them into the 20th century in terms of computers and the like, got a lot of the backlog out of the way, satisfied, change framework and we of thinking much away from class-action suits to individual claims of discrimination. that was his conservative viewpoint and i think he brings a conservative the point to the court and that is what the first president bush very much wanted and i don't think despite the call that there was any effort or to have an all white court felt that somehow thomas clarence would be defeated to the contrary there was tremendous support for clarence thomas during those confirmation hearings and the fault was the
narrative of his life story as a poor kid from georgia who had gone on to lacrosse and then yale and made something of himself was the kind of inspirational story that would allow him to sail through those confirmation hearings. they had no anticipation anita hill was going to pop up and we gave such a problem for clarence thomas. >> host: butch is joining next from wyoming. go ahead, please. argue with us? we will try one more time. i will go to david in tulsa oklahoma. go ahead, david. >> caller: hello mr. williams. first i would like to share with you i am a high school u.s. history teacher and "eyes on the prize" has educated my students the last couple of decades concerning the modern civil rights movement. >> guest: let me just interrupt you and say thank you for using it. you know, i wrote this book as i was telling steve in conjunction with pbs series and it's just
gratifying when i hear you say that because i wrote that taking time of my job at "the washington post" in a basement and washington and traveling around on a shoestring because we didn't have much money and for me to tell -- you to tell me people still valued especially a history teacher like you i want to say thanks. >> caller: thank you. and you are welcome. there is not a better tool to teach the modern civil rights movement. trust me. my question for you is that during the modern civil rights movement sometimes we forget it was during the cold war. how did the soviet union propagandize the modern civil rights movement and did it have any affect on the politics in the united states? >> guest: yes it did have tremendous effect on the politics and what they tried to propagandize is black people had no rights at home, for all the claims of america as the beacon
of democracy to the world for all its claims afterward to that in the united states there was a rank oppression by black people and maltreatment of american citizens and that the united states was engaged in high hypocrisy and you think back to some of the arguments taking place in this country inside the civil rights movement and it was about the communist influence on the movement and then the counter eckert by the likes of people like walter white head of the naacp for such a while to say we have nothing to do with the communist and of course then you get people like w.e.b. du bois challenging white and leaning more towards socialism and the kind of support it was coming from the soviet union you think back to so much of, arguments over the great actor,
i'm blocking out his name, very much thinking that it is possible the soviet union had a different model in mind for treatment and equality of all races given what was happening here in the united states and paul robeson and so robeson of course becomes sort of enamored of the soviet model and things that might be the way out and of course that leads him to be involved in so many of the issues that surround him and i can think also of the case of some members of the naacp who began to espouse communist doctrine naacp chapters and that leads of course to then especially in the south white segregationist politicians to claim it's nothing but a communist movement, it's not only number agitators coming down and causing trouble with these are people who are communists threatening the very ideals of the united states so
that was one way to diminish if not dismiss the power of a civil rights movement in the midst of the cold war. >> host: digit mentioned the march on washington. this is a photograph from your book, august 28, 1963, and organizers thought maybe a few thousand would show up. 250,000 people showed up on that august day. why? >> guest: well it was so heavily organized and what is interesting about this, steve, is philip randolph, this is really his moment of course we remember in terms of martin luther king jr. and the i have a dream speech on the steps of the lincoln memorial, about what is compelling is you look at the front line of the great march on washington and you have phillip randall people, dr. king from the southern christian leadership conference, people from the naacp and you have such range of representation, people from the labor unions, people from religious groups, not only
mainstream religious groups, but some that are small in the united states, jewish groups, everybody represented. and this had somehow become known as the moment to show up, and the government was even scared, so scared they shut down washington for that day, the positioned national guard troops outside the city. there was fear this was going to lead to rioting and they were thinking it was going to be a travesty but people have a sense this was a moment there was going to be a civil rights act it was time to speak to the government, to speak in such a way that the government could hear people, people of conscience thought it was time to make progress on the civil rights issue. >> host: where was president kennedy that day? >> guest: at the white house and president kennedy there was what should he participate again for fear this was going to become a violent episode he was held away from it, did not
participate and it was only afterwards once it was clear it was a tremendous success he been in fights the leaders of the march to come through the white house. >> host: our conversations with juan williams. >> caller: thank you for taking my call. i've seen you go out with bill kristol and my friends have written the most historical account of the neoconservative agenda that takes them to iraq. >> host: any response? >> guest: well, i go at this with bill kristol and put him and charles krepp tener the, what is interesting to me is these are various aspects of my life and one level during history and one level during journalism for fox news and npr and fox it is mostly debate so it shifts hell i am seen in the world and it's interesting at times, you know, people will see me as the liberal or conservative, but it's so hard
and especially in this kind of mitch media that we have today to be seen as simply trying to give people information because you so often get involved in these highly publicized debates but it makes for good tv. >> host: at reporter address is booktv@c-span2. our guest this sunday is juan williams. i want to talk about bill cosby. these are his words. i'm talking about these people who cry when their son is standing there and an orange suit. where were they when he was to? where were you when he was 12? where were you when he was 18 and how come you don't know he had a pistol and where is his father and why don't you know where he is and why doesn't the father show up and talk to this boy? >> guest: it is just powerful stuff to me and it's part of what i think is the evidence of an ongoing civil rights struggle in this country that you have bill cosby, a man of such high
esteem not only in the black community but in america and the nation, is a tremendous success willing to stand up and challenge the powers of being in the black community about the way things are going, to point out when you look at the crime rate, when you look at this celebration of gangster culture in the community that somebody needs to stand up and speak out aggressively about what is becoming dysfunction in the black community. so this book enough is more of a polemic band history book, but it is framed around bill cosby taking a her withstand say and what a lot of people don't want to be said and a lot of people don't want to hear which is if you are dealing with kids who are not getting educated and who are dropping out of school at more than 50% rate if you are dealing with people who are being incarcerated by black americans more than 40% of the prison population despite being
13, 14% of the population when you are dealing with so many children born out of wedlock especially in the black communities, 70% black children born to single mothers come here is bill cosby say and how can we not view this as a crisis, how can we not all be talking about it and why are some people claiming that it is a matter of airing dirty laundry when in fact you have a situation which as you just heard him describe where kids are suffering and yet somehow in the black community the leadership is heavily invested in arguments about reparations or three strikes and you're out or some act what they would view as public racism or the police did something as opposed to things that can be controlled, arguments taking place inside of that community and that is why when bill cosby spoke out it became so controversial because people knew what he was saying was true it was just difficult for some people to hear. >> host: in the book you say that he does so without dressing
up his thoughts with statistical data. >> guest: he wasn't trying to present it as a sociologist or political course. it is his nature. the man tells story. he's a great narrator, a great comedian, a great storyteller. >> host: one of the review in "the washington post" say, the covenant with black america a best-selling anthology with concrete proposals for community empowerment enough concludes with a flurry of righteous condensation preaching that youngsters can best avoid poverty by finishing high school, getting a job postponing marriage and childbearing until 21. common sense. >> guest: i think it's common sense but a lot of people felt this was radical proposal and my thinking you know what if you are not speaking to people in terms what would suggest they have control of their lives and circumstance if you are not saying to people given 25% of the black and hispanic population live in poverty here
are steps you can take to pull yourself to help your children get out of poverty and i don't know what you're doing. that is what i'm saying here are steps that are not chargeable and it isn't a matter of debate. if you look up these numbers and take these steps, finishing high school, if you do this step of holding up to age of comic getting a job and holding onto the job, if you take a step of not mayor young until q4 vachon read from school, more than 21, not having children until you're married there's almost no chance to live in poverty in the united states without regard to your race yet you don't hear this message delivered by civil rights leaders in terms of the argument becomes argue one of those people about personal responsibility versus making claims against the larger system and charges the larger system is historically racist and all sorts of conspiracy theories but i think that at some point and this is what in the spirit of bill cosby you have to respect
that individual and say here is how you can help yourself and here is how the prescriptions are. the things you can do to guarantee your success in this country. >> host: i don't have the figure in front of me but what percentage of african-american boys and men under the age of 35 are incarcerated? >> guest: it's a little more than 20%, and it's when you get under 30, steve, it goes up and then starts to go down. of course there's lots of recidivism but part of this issue is why you have so many young black men in prison today and it extends into the culture, the celebration of the rap music and the notion of criminality, young people singing it's a rite of passage for a young black man to go to jail, the way people dress, i think they dress like they just got out of jail and they have their pants and they don't have shoelaces because the word and wouldn't get into them
and this becomes part of the hip-hop culture and the assumptions and the notion of family life and then of course the mail was absent and breakdown of family life and black community. these are the stories of this time and it's difficult because it is a hard story to hear and yet people like bill cosby brave enough to speak out i think our on guard. they are the leading edge but has to be done at this time especially for poor black people >> host: is this the next struggle of the civil rights movement? >> guest: i think it is. obviously if you were going to have -- i did some research i guess a little more than a year ago with the que research center for the press and the people we were doing polls what black people fault in reaction was at the time the obama campaign and the most astounding discovery was if you ask poor black people what's going on inside black america they said there's no longer one black america let's to black americans, there are
those who are poor not advancing as a result of doors open and education in business and the like versus upper-income black americans, the barack obama's of the world who have moved on and they see them as a separate race. the white guys they are all black people but not to poor black people. poor black people see themselves caught in a specific circumstance and in a cycle of poverty, often repeats generation to generation and false high levels of incarceration and involves bad schools and the kind of drug acceptance behavior and all that and family breakdown. and the question is how do you hold this together? you often see a lot of guilt people saying i haven't forgotten where i've coming from. i'm reaching back to look for poor black people the realize a lot of this is a bold rhetoric and they want to see action and i think they need action in this
very specific in terms of trying to extricate them from the problems of poverty and disenfranchisement. that persists for the society and the poor but especially poor minorities. >> host: our guest is juan williams, national public radio and fox news channel and author of six books on race in america. daniel is on the phone from new jersey putative good morning. >> caller: good morning. mr. williams i'm grateful to c-span2 de. i have followed your writings and i also compliment you on "eyes on the prize" because that is a book that i have read and learned a great deal from [inaudible] from my accent to see i'm from sri lanka myself so we've gone through this terrible -- a couple of comments. one is the conversation that you
are having on the criminal justice system. i am in the process writing a book that's going to be entitled the last plantation of criminal justice system because about 60% of all of the people happen to be minorities [inaudible] the drug lords are at the heart of the system where all of these done black men are incarcerated -- and the war in -- i don't
want to get involved because that is a problem -- >> host: did you have question for juan williams? >> caller: the question i want to ask [inaudible] >> host: the beer summit. >> guest: all drinking beer. i think what happened is the president had this look up at that conference and got involved in a situation. aggressively, it was surprising because the president doesn't speak about race and doesn't want to be seen as the black president and wants to be seen rightly so as the president of the united states and all americans and suddenly here he was in a situation where he said, and i think this most americans wouldn't fault him for saying that professor gates was a friend and he wanted to be supportive of his friend but when he started characterizing
either sergeant ken rowley or the police department's acting stupidly at that point it was over the line because he didn't know the fact of the case and then it's the fact of the case emerged the president obama had gone on about racial profiling about his efforts back in illinois to deal with racial profiling. as the facts occurred there was no racial profiling. a neighbor called because she saw accurately there were two men trying to break into a house. it turns out it was professor gates and his driver but when the police come they are coming in response to a break in call and they have the -- they are in their white to try to find out who this person is and who is legitimately in the house and may be hiding in that house, someone hiding in a closet, threatening, telling the police out of here or in going to shoot your cousin or your wife or whatever. they don't know, so they ask for identification from professor gates and who else is in the house, professor gates has the response, you know, do you know
who i am? are you treating me this way because i'm a black person, etc., then it becomes confrontational. but for the white house and for the president you can have some i think most people would say the police could have been more patient and i think they might have said you know what, he's upset, he just got back from china, he couldn't even get in his own house, it's not worthy of arresting him because he's in his own house, once they had established the situation and was under control but the other way to look at it is he was taunting their authority and they felt he was out of control in terms of the abusive language and the like and they wanted to reassert their authority and the situation that there was no profiling is the president introduced as this is an example of black people are subjected to racial profiling in the country. so to deal with that problem he then had to have the beer summit and i think it worked for the president to try to extricate
himself from this mess because it's just a conversation he doesn't need. it is a drag on him and his approval ratings and pole was done during the time show his numbers were going down especially with white americans who felt the president may have spoken out of term and somehow become like trying to show off some specific loyalty, racial loyalty or playing racial politics. not helpful to the president at a time he's trying to get his domestic policy through and it relies on the american people like and trust him. >> host: a lot of opinions on the cable channel including fox one that got a lot of attention gwen bet calling president of, a racist. >> guest: i am stunned by that. i don't understand that. i think in that situation people are just saying things to stir the pot or create an audience
for themselves because there's no reality to that. first of obviously his mother is white and his father is black and obviously he was raised by white grandparents and has gone to schools that were a majority white from the time he was in prep school through, and you know, columbia and harvard and i've never heard that from anybody even when he was in the pews of river and write and reverend wright is over there spewing making outrageous statements barack obama never behaved in such way that would make you think that he espoused were believed were held some racist attitudes, so i think a lot of that is simple grandstanding making outrageous statements provocateur going back at his best but i don't think there is any reality to that. there's a difference between the personality show and a new show
and that is a personality driven. >> host: bush is diligent. calling back argue with us now? he had the volume on the television set. we're going to put you on hold and third time will be the charm. offered in california. >> caller: mr. williams is a pleasure to get through to you. im a child of the fifties like yourself. i have watched you every other night on fox news. i've got to tell you this is a call for you, don't get me mistaken but i have to tell you listening to you speak today and you're the voice of reason almost touching every point i want to make both pro and con with regard to bill cosby to an audience not necessarily a receptive to what he's saying.
a lot of things being set up their need to be heard by everyone and you know what i'm talking about what me say this. a couple of things. we are talking about the question asked how many young black men are involved in the system and i think it is approximately one-third, that is arrested, incarcerated, probation and parole. you and i both know that young people in particular have to do the right thing, go to school, to raise children and do the right thing. at the end of that conversation mr. talking about professor ann gates conversation and let's take a look at this closely. look at professor ann gates and see how he is arrested. i know how he talks.
see how he is arrested and put in the system almost and this is when we say a lot of these young black men are incarcerated and jailed mr. o'reilly will go off in a tangent on that. i don't want to talk about russia and sean hannity and genie. we were going to ruin the republican party. when we consider this i don't want to see black underclass i don't think that is representative of all. if we look at the nomination will -- never discussed. >> host: thank you for the call. >> guest: what caught my ear from the call is the notion that certain things people don't need to hear. some people don't need to hear and i think he's talking about problems inside the black community especially as it would
give ammunition to the people he describes as far right-wing whether it is rush limbaugh, sean hannity and the like and people he apparently feels have antipathy toward the black community and don't have a sincere passion to try to help uplift and so he says we don't need to have those people to give them ammunition. bill cosby said it's not a matter of earing dirty laundry. it isn't as if there are people who don't know about the problems, about the high dropout rate and don't know about the achievement gap between black and white children, who don't know about feet high incarceration rates and celebration of the drug culture. and i think it is just so difficult to have that conversation, steve. it's painful to hear it and then there are those as the caller points out will legitimately use that to distort that in some cases by use it to say we don't
need social intervention to help those left behind and often left behind because of historical injustice in the society. so then it leads people i think into positions that are highly polarized and i am not going to admit to falls on my side because you could use it and i don't think you're going to admit to fall on your side because you don't want to have an honest conversation. i think when it comes to race you've got to speak honestly if you expect other people to speak honestly with you and you honestly think that we could in this country come to some profitable productive resolution. written the biography of justice marshall, "eyes on the prize," having written other books about everything from the history of black religion in the country think it is an incredible american possibility that you can deal with what seems -- in the 1950's who would have dreamed we could be at the point
we are today? i wouldn't even be in front of the camera. my father couldn't believe he would be on six books on national public radio or fox news, not possible for my father said it would seem like incredible. wheat eminent. i think that sense of possibility exists if we are honest with each other about what makes the racial divide in the country and part of that has to do with dealing honestly with problems when it comes to education or criminal behavior speaking honest so we can meet the demand to others the spiegelman's. >> host: to the audience listening on c-span radio, our "in depth" guest is juan williams. his other books as he mentioned his biography of thurgood marshall, also "enough" and we will get to your phone calls and e-mails. butch, still live from jackson wyoming. go ahead, please. >> caller: yes, i am on the
line of. i come from jackson wyoming, and wyoming is a little area of the state, but most state is very prejudice state, and the situation with blacks at schools, you know, they need a class for self-esteem and class teaching children what it's like to be a parent and what it takes to raise a child. deneen this education in schools. the conservatives keep saying you've got to bring yourself up by your bootstraps but if you have no boots you can't do that and the concrete jungle in these cities, you know, you go across their river in suburbia where they have swimming pools and tennis courts you go into a black neighborhood and
basketball court is wrecked or something and the teachers are portable and so you wonder why they don't stay in school than they have gangs. >> host: stay on the line. i want to read something that you are a perfect segue on something bill cosby said i want your comments and also "in juan williams's and you know the juan williams. it was delivered when by the way? >> guest: 50th anniversary of the brown decision here in washington and constitution hall. it was sponsored by the naacp. >> host: 50% dropout rate, these are bill cosby's words, people in jail, women having children by five, six men under what excuse? i want somebody to love me and as soon as you have it and forget to parent? grandmother, mother and in the same room raising children and the child knows nothing about love or respect, you also say
spending $500 on sneakers for what? they won't spend $250 for hooked on phonics. butch? >> caller: those that have five women do that so they can cut welfare money. though women get on welfare and then the men go to the women the impregnated -- >> host: is about welfare or something else? >> caller: this is what started back in the days of the welfare situation. i lived in new york. i know what it's like back there. i used to do here when myself. i used to hang out in black neighborhoods. the women would have babies and the men would go to their houses and get the welfare check. this is why men were not around all the time. women were taking control, the women couldn't be parents, they became drug addicts themselves
and they had no training in child care whatsoever and that's one of the big problems -- i'm disappointed with your remarks on gangs. you don't let somebody in their house being built lectures. you give too much authority. you and conservatives are backing police officers and not the constitution. >> host: we will get a response on his earlier response on bill cosby's speech and then professor gates. >> guest: i don't take it in terms of black society but he makes the important point about welfare and the welfare rules oftentimes not encouraging the presence of a man in the home and then let especially again in terms of the so-called underclass to some negative ramifications because then you
have people engaged in single-parent households and lack of attention to the child becoming something repeating because parents or children who didn't have good parents having children themselves and not having a role models how intense parenting is and how much effort is required and young women thinking it doesn't matter if the man is and staying with me i just answered in sociology studies indicating sense that lots of women, not only black women but increasing the women of all races in this country think you don't need a man and somehow to raise a child and they are absolutely wrong. a mother and a father are essentials for a child. that's not to say every child is going to be damaged by the absence debt or mother but if you look at it in general the answer is yes it is good to have a mother and father and it benefits the child greatly and those are the children who do best in school, at least contact
with criminal justice system, the greatest likelihood to graduate from college. you could go on and on. so, you know, he is right about this as the roots of a difficult problem in terms of family breakdown in black america. .. to improve schools, reduce health problems in the black community or any other key issue facing black america.
>> guest: you know, i would extend that comment to say this, if you look >> guest: if you look back, the highlight of his career, and if you say what came of these campaigns? the best argument could be that would be made is, well, he was there to say to president reagan, a rising tide doesn't raise all boats, especially boats at the bottom with a hole it in, as was the case of poor black america so it was almost a crusade and saying to people, we are capable and running for president in terms of creating real change in the system that would to benefit to the people of color and those in greatest need, it's just questionable. even after the second campaign was arguments about he inspired other people to run, arguably you could make the case he helped us change the delegate selection process. it wasn't winner take all. that benefited barack obama later. in terms of really dealing with
the on the drown issues in the face of the black community, dealing with things like people -- the high level of criminal activity or the problems in the schools, the crack houses, all that, why is it that with jessie jackson or the naacp you don't see them in the streets calling attention to these problems that weigh to heavily on our community, preferring to be in the protest mode and pointing fingers at the white community. it's absolutely necessary that someone speak up, that there be a voice, but when you get to the point where black people are about 13-14% of the american population, when you get a critical mass of educated black people, middle class black people, and say, well, we're in a position now to help ourselves, and to do more for ourselves, and yet it seems in a way they're caught in the past and not attending to real issues
where their hands-on effort, their stature could we the real trigger, could be the cat list for social change inside the black community that would give you greater leverage to make demand on the white community for help. >> host: you also wreath about al sharpton. but first we hear from ronald from florence, kansas. >> caller: i'm from brownsville, brook help. and i was bussed out to junior high school, and it was so terrify, for three months i didn't go to school because of the racial problems we had there i work at the freedom center, and type for the judge. he said that case is still active in the courts. so, that period of american history really not -- has not
disappeared, and it's still a part of us. what is your view on that and the last question, how do you think thurgood marshall would view barack obama as president? did he envision something like that happening or what? thank you for taking my call. >> guest: very quickly, on the second question, no, he didn't envision it. think it would have been a stunner. i think he would have been thrilled, just as he was getting sick he was supposed to do the swearing in for vice president gore but he got sick. that's just shortly before he died. and i think for him it would have been greatly satisfying. i think, of course, he would be somewhat distressed by the conservative majority now on the court, but i guess encouraged by the idea that president obama's first nominee is an hispanic
woman. he brought different voices and experiences to the court in response to your first question about arguments out busing that took place in the north, the struggles in boston to do with the desegregation of the schools. those arguments go on in terms of affirmative action but you can see it on a very real level in terms of continued reality of what i think of as the doughnut. here in washington, a really troubled public school system dominated by minority kids, hyper segregated here in the district of columbia, more than 90% black and hispanic kid nez schools and you get to the suburb out of new york, get into connecticut and new jersey and suddenly it's a much more diverse population, heavily white, and the level of academic achievement much higher, clearly different, and those kids, especially the kids at the upper
level of those schools, are then going on to the ivy leagues and better schools and being trained to occupy positions of leadership, critical thinking skills, all the rest. it's as if we are engaged in what the south africans -- -- a bantu education. you're giving people in certain areas just enough education to be the servants and maids, the service people, but you don't ever give them the opportunity to rise up and get their foot on that bottom rung of the ladder of upward mobility so they can n become part of the leadership of society so that's the trouble now to try to correct these schools bass as the minority population grows, a third minority population and increasing rapidly. the question is, then are we ready to surrender our status in terms of economic advantage, intellectual advantage in an
innovation economy, as president obama calls it, because wore not properly educating so many of our people and it's a critical stage. the business communicate says you need educated and capable workers. so a lot of what was tolerated before in the guise of racism, the thinking everybody has to look out for their open kids, now becomes a national social pry sort and education maybe -- if you wanted to put a title on it, whates the civil rights agenda? i would put education at the very top, make sure that every child really has the opportunity to learn and to achieve academically. but again, here we are back to, are kids taking school seriously >> host: where did you go to school. >> guest: ps241 in brooklyn and then either aruss -- a high
school in flatbush or stuyvesant, because i did well on regional exams, but i got a scholarship to good to a prep school in upstate new york called oakwood friends school, quaker school, and did very well. for me it was such a nurturing place, i was thed debt for of the school paper, as you can imagine, given my crime. was president of the student body. we won basketball championships and cross-country runner. >> did you play basketball? >> guest: i was captain of the basketball team there, and then went off to college, another quaker institution outside philadelphia, and my alma mater, and my son goes there now. so had a great time there. studied philosophy and graduated with a b. after in 1976. >> host: where were you born and whoa? >> guest: i was born in panama.
my mother brought three children to brooklyn. i was born there because my father -- both grandfathers were in the caribbean and went to work on the panama canal. in fact both died building the panama canal. so my grandfather on my father's side, my father's father went there as a worker from jam make okay and my grandfather and his father's both borne in jamaica. on my mother's side, my mother's father went to panama to open a restaurant. for the whites it was a followed area and silver was for the blacks and the minority. he went to open a silver restaurant for the workers on the canal who were coming in, and my father was born in panama, my father in jamaica. >> host: marcus miller, sends an
e-mail. i would like to take a nice step away from the political talk for a bit and hear more about juan's personal likes and dislikes, favorite baseball team, and how he spends his free time. so there you have it. >> guest: it's funny. i don't get that much free time. but what i get for free time i typically spend as either exercising and -- i used to be quite a return, i was a cross-country runner in high school, and continued to run for much of my life, but lately i'm told i should stick with the tread mil so that's what i do. and then i do watch pro sports, and so this time of year, you know, summer, fall, i'm watching the washington nationals or the baltimore orioles. we just got the nationals, and i was a oriole fan. the local people covers the nationals more intently than the orioles so i follow the
nationals and it's a reminder just what a little piece about greg up in new york in 1969, and i thought, with men landing on the moon that should have-the whole story should have been that about i was fixated on the mets bus that's the team i rooted for in 1969, the miracle mets. so that was my memory of '69. that and of course things like the panthers and growing up in brooklyn and the kind of black muslims and the things going on. so i root for the nationals and the orioles and in the winter i'm a huge washington wizards fan. it's like a little boy club. tim russert used to figure not far in front of me, wolf blitzer behind me. david gregory from nbc, a lot of people in the media and politics
are big pro nba fans. the benefit is because they're tickets on specific dates, my wife says either you're going or i'm taking somebody else. and i think, i should stop working here and good to the game. so it's an enforced date. >> host: we're talking to juan williams on c-span2 2. >> thanks for taking my call. i would not watch fox news sunday if it wasn't for you. >> guest: thank so much. i hoper rooting for me. >> i am. you bring a lot of level headedness to that program that wouldn't be there if you weren't there. where do we start in the black community? drug, education, housing, jobs, crime? i think you have to attack them all at the same time. i don't think you can start with one to attack them all at one time. how we talk about race in
america. well, we can't talk about it. because if we do, with have to pull back the covers and expose all of the people who have done whatever they have done to get us to the point we are now. for example, eye eye -- iran-co. a lot of people believe that the reagan administration brought guns into the inner city. and you have to say america hat come a long be a because of al the whites that voted fore own to be get him in office but there's a small askingment of the republicans are controlled by their emotions and fears, and i think at some point we're going to move beyond that. i hope we do. >> guest: i hope we do, too. i think that there's a lot of people who have irrational -- i'm really -- it seems strange
to me all this focus on obama's birth certificate, the i'dty politics that place to reckless sentiments that want to view him as anything less than an astoundingly capable individual who has thrilled a nation with his election and his campaign, which was expertly run, and we see how he does as president. he should be judged as president and for bet are or worse, success or failure, but the kind of knit -- it in picking about his birth certificate, claiming he is a racist, it's whackiness and racist in a society where people can become violent in terms of their extremism. >> host: let me ask you a what-fifth question, and i take it in the ven because in eyes on the prize you talk about sojourner truth and frederick
douglass. what if he did not have slavely in this country? >> guest: if you stop and think about back at the point of the revolution, participating fully and expecting that he is going to be treated as a citizen, then you're talking about the idea of black talent and the black experience to this country being one of the immigrant as opposed to forced labor, slavery. so, the immigrant experience, even inside the black community, when you think about black africans who have come here or people from the west indies or latin america, hay come here to a land of opportunity and the view the experience differently, and the native-born who are much more involved in the struggle
against racism and see it as if they are weighed down by it. so if you imagine there's no slavery, you have a tremendous reservoir of talent that could have added to the american experience much earlier. i think the notion of divide, of course, is going to be present. human beings tend to be tribal and different. i can see that. but the notion of american law, amendments, civil war, the whole notion of the terrible lies that had to be told in the american mind to deal with the fact of legal discrimination. so much of that is gone. so you're opening up opportunities and doors in the american experience that i think would have made it a much more immobiling, much rich -- thick
would have been able to invest all the energy we have had to invest in dealing with race in other issues. >> host: rachel frock los angeles. >> caller: good morning to you i have a question and a comment. okay. first of all, why isn't fox news and c-span and the other news stations talking about larry franklin in the case was the front panel on the washington times this past week and nobody mentioned it. also, you cut off -- not you, the control room cut off a prior caller that mentioned neoconservativism. if you read the book the transparent kabal he described it as a jewish unit. obama is following in their footsteps by the way. you see, our media is controlled by zionists and i'm getting
tired of it. the best place to get the news is press tv, good to press tv.com and get the real news and they will show you coverage they wouldn't dare show here what is going on in gaza. they showed a home where people were held hostage, and some newscasters trying to get in there to interview the families and they they've israely guard. it was awful and they would never show this stuff hereafter. >> host: thank you for the call and your plug for the web site. we talk about jesse jackson and reverend al sharpton, very critical of him. you say as recently as 2005, al sharpton took money from a company called loan max in exchange for appearing in ads to lure black people, saying the
company agreed to put up the title of the car as collateral. this kind of exploitation of the vulnerable is why half of the states ban such loans. >> guest: absolutely. it's hard to believe that anybody would engage in that behavior and then call themselves a civil rights leader, about in sharpton's case, he has allowed himself to be hired by this one corporation that angers another one and then he stages demonstrations and marches, which is a total abuse of the legacy of the civil rights movement and the power of people to march and discuss dissent and here he is marching for one company, repping one company against another in some sort of corporate fight, and paying homeless people to pretend to march, people who don't know or care about the issue, just following his lead. it's so cynical and destruct tv of the power and the leg guess of the civil rights movement
where individual peoples make decisions about society and not about putting dollars in their pockets because they're exploiting the memory of dr. king. i think sharpton is trying to be the next jesse jackson. jesse jackson was trying to promote himself as a civil rights leader. so many of those guys are lost brut the white press continues to run to them anytime there's any kind of racialens incident in america, jackson and sharpton get amake crow phone and they're supposed to speak for all black people. it's not a good situation. doesn't lead to social change. not the kind of people taking daring stands, putting themselves at risk and sacrifices in order toed a vans the racing or nation. >> host: did those comments give you any heat? >> guest: sharpton said i was the black ann coulter and don't pay any attention to him, and jackson said, you know, you just don't understand, and you're not old enough, you're not wise
enough. i should have spent more time talking to him. all of these things. imagine if bill cosby takes heat, his time and energy to help every civil rights cause and he was cast out. so you can imagine the umbrage people take when i try to speak honestly about race and in the need for addressing issues by the black comment. >> host: one of the more recent books with regard to historical black colleges and universities, "i will find a way or make one." >> guest: that's about the power of historically black college and their history in the united states. talk about the high percentage of doctors and lawyers and engineers, they come out of hbcs, historically black colleges and u universities. you think about spike lee, oprah
win "windows of the soul --" black oprah win fry, and those schools graduate more of the glad kids in the country who go to college tom -- than the majority of white schools. it's the case that most of the black kids who graduate are graduating from historically black colleges and universities and are serving as a res sir -- support for kids who need help and might not qualify to go to a state university but they serve a very important role and historically, if you think back to the thurgood marshall, you think back to him as a young man at lincoln university where he runs into langston hughes, thurgood marshall and langston hughes, african princes at one time. it was a place -- even on an
international level, for producing the next level of black leaders in the world. >> host: i want to go back to another caller. we had a viewerring and why hey had a congressional black caucus, and side why didn't we have a congressional white caucus. do you want to respond to that? >> guest: most think that black and white people landed on these shores and were treated equally ever since and white majority -- go back to the mid-20th mid-20th century of being 90% of the population or so. no, we never had that kind of difference and we never had the sense of white entitlement and privilege under law as we have had in this country. so then you wouldn't say, well, so, why is it that there is even an issue of franchise, that black people were denied the vote, enslaved and the struggle to get black people into elected office in the country, to get them to have a sense of being
properly represented at every level of political life and without that background you would ask, why a black caucus? if you new the history, as you get more black people coming into the congress and wanting to represent black constituents in specific no matter what district, occasionally have black elected official who represents a white or mixed district but they want to have a sense of a voice for african-americans and these why there is a congressional black caucus. it's not an oddity. it was created to make sure that the political system was reflecting the vitality and the views and needs of black america. >> host: s a you listen to kathleen, we show you the book covers of juan williams go ahead kathleen. >> caller: hi, juan. i so enjoy everything i ever read you write and really
appreciate your perspective. but i -- i also want to say the way you go up against what call warmongering is so needed, and his new war is -- it's not new for him but on health care. i couldn't disagree with you more with regard to jesse jackson. i live in athens. and jessy has come which over and over again, and i sat there and had access to him, and he -- i feel like he embraces the issue of poverty, regardless of race. focused on economics. he comes here and talks about lack of living wages and the draws parallels between the appalachian communities and other folks in poverty and have a lack of access. but the other thing i wanted to bring up, had the privilege of
going to the eric holder nomination hearing, and i heard -- let's see, i heard eric hole holder say no one is before the law more times i can count and then i whitehouse and leahy and feinstein. i didn't hear any republicans say that that no one is above the law. so what is the message to all of us, african-americans, say, the recidivism rate for men in prison and those in appalachia ya, and me, 57-year-old white woman, what's the message to us that we watch people say, for instance, the bush administration or any administration, who commit looks like very serious crimes, lying about wmds, outing valerie plame, when we watch our leaders not hold these people accountable and you watch some guy go to prison for whatever amount of time, five years for
holding up a local grocery store or whatever, when we watch our leaders not hold serious crimes accountable, what's the message to the rest of us? i think the message is very serious, that they are above the law. >> host: kathleen, thank you. >> guest: i think kathleen's answer is self-evident. i don't think any of us should be before the law and the reason you weren't hearing that response on the committee is they were holding hearings on holder's nomination was the fear there would be some effort to go back and have inquiries, investigations into what took place during the bush administration with regard to treatment of detainees, torture and the like, and we have since discovers lots of issues and questions, attorney general holder, now that he has been confirmed, said he is considering having a special prosecutor in place to do just the kind of thing that you're
talking about. but now i must say that president barack obama has said he wants to focus on moving forward. doesn't want to get bogged down, get lost in recrimination over what people did at a time when the country was feeling very threatened. i don't think there's any argument with what you said. the answer is evident in your question. if we hold to this ideals that the law applies to us all, we're nation of laws no one can be above the law, and certainly if you look at people like richard nixon, no one, including the president of the united states, is above the law. >> host: another former president, the subject of an e-mail. he says can you please tell me about john f. kennedy, his relationship with king during the civil rights struggle, saying someone once told me there's reason there's no photograph of them together? there are photographs of them together.
kennedy didn't understand much of the civil rights movement as he himself said, he was a senator from massachusetts, he didn't understand the need for the kind of consultation that dr. king would precipitate in order to facilitate social change to defend the rights of black citizens. this is -- early on there's wonderful story where during the midst othe 19 # 0 campaign between kennedy and nixon, dr. king is put in jail in georgia, and they move him from one jail to another and there's a great deal of worry because they don't know where he and is don't know if he is being tortured or beaten up in jail, and you get an effort by people to get then candidate kennedy to call and reach out to the governor, and harris walker, who
became a senator from pennsylvania, was an assistant to president kennedy and, once all the other aides left, gets kennedy to make the call to the governor and that call then gets publishized in the mist of the campaign in terms of the black church saying here is a candidate that cares and it helps the black community shift and vote for community. nixon might have gotten the majority of the black vote but that moment was critical. ... le'ist@úspecially with regard to housing, and kennedy's just very slow to act not wanting to anger democrats in the south. and remember at that point in our history, the south was mostly democratic, they were
dixiecrats, and he didn't want to take them on and was reluctant to support much to have civil rights activism for that reason, seeing it as creating a fizz sure inside the democratic party that would not help his election. viewed it as a lot of troubled problems, and it was bobby kennedy who saw the light and begins to push his brother to, you know, really get on the civil rights bandwagon. but kennedy by his own admission just didn't understand it, didn't have it close to his heart. >> host: we'll take one more call in our first half of our three-hour conversation with juan williams. f. lee, good morning. >> caller: good morning, and i'd like to thank booktv and c-span for another great program, and juan williams, i'd like to thank you for eye on the prize and thurgood marshall. i have a traveling black history museum that teaches race relations throughout the state, and i use to form a more perfect
union, those stamps the u.s. postal service commissioned for the civil rights movement. and i also use eye on the prize. >> guest: thank you. >> caller: so i'd just like to thank you again for that work. and my question to you is thurgood marshall's relationship with dr. king and malcolm x. would you just talk about that just briefly, and i do hold you up there with max robberson and ed bradley for your commentary, and thank you so much. >> guest: you're very kind. >>guest: thank you for saying that part of this is really interesting stuff. when you look back at the relationship with thoroughbred marshall lire is a sense that it even looking down at dr. king he has already did she do brown v. board of education and on the cover of
"time" magazine before dr. kimmie emergence-- she emerges as this 25 year-old who is in all demagoguery alabama and thurgood marshall is asked to help this young minister down in alabama and going off on his honeymoon for his second marriage and aspen of the aids to get involved and when he comes back it is all over the papers big headlines martin luther king is a national celebrity. of course, dr. keying goes on to be the kind of person who is raising money, starting southern christian leadership conference because the naacp is so controversial in the south and the the communist influence organizations and he was a southern christian leadership group a local group that people can't attack. thurgood marshall says he is a
great speaker and an interesting character but we are doing the serious work at the naacp legal defense fund and later when there are charges of sexual escapades by dr. keith and at 1.thurgood marshall had a source says he is being monitored and his rooms are being bugged and dr. king says it does not bother me and thurgood marshall says how do you say that they're trying to embarrass you and are even for the great march on washington and thurgood marshall is not there he thinks it is counterproductive to 8870 and the congress that there will be violence and riots in the street he thinks it will have a negative impact in terms of getting critical legislation it will be more divisive. with malcolm x. they are both in our lumber crow this is a
wonderful thing. they are both in the same neighborhood of parlor in new york they cannot stand each other there are points at which malcolm x is putting down thurgood marshall as the mainstream traditionalist black leader, the tocqueville leader, half white looking and all this kind of stuff but later he reaches out at that time thurgood marshall is so alien and angry and antagonize he doesn't want anything to malcolm x invites him a letter to be featured guest but he does not even responded is the angry low boil situation. it is interesting to remember interviewing thurgood marshall
over a course of several months and we were talking about malcolm x and the fact his autobiography the alex haley is standard reading and he is so celebrated in his figure but he becomes almost a point* of being agitated and why do people think he is a hero? he was a pimp and a hustler and an agitator and what did he do on the front lines in terms of civil-rights? it was a puzzle why did american culture make malcolm x0 and he is not celebrated the way he is? i think that speaks to marshall's own insecurities how history viewed him. >>host: what of the six books by our guest here on booktv in depth with juan williams who lives in the washington d.c. area we have traveled to his home and we will show you about that. the web address is book gb.org
and when we come back we'll talk race relations and the leading figures in the 20th century that shape race relations issues with juan williams as we continue. >> this is a photomontage of my dad who trained boxers for a living. this is his life in panama on in a 1947. and here he is with joe louis when he was on a trip down to latin america, central america to give boxing exhibition said he had been boxing against one of my dad's fighters are afterwards he came into the trading room with some of the other dignitaries and one of my dad's fighter's name defend again to spend some time with joe louis. here is my dad in a corner with and again and here he is
after a fight there is my dad and there is a boxer after the victorious fight. that is part of my life and two i am with my love of boxing that i got from my dad. >>host: did your dad train you? >>guest: i did not like getting hit in the face. he could get me a few times i thought i had better be a writer. [laughter] because i work for a npr here is the line that i use in moments of breaking news or one 1/2 to do something very early in the day because the morning edition goes on the air at 5:00 a.m. so sometimes i do things from home in my pajamas sitting here at the microphone four npr. but right next to me is books and more books and research and then these folios is the
afro-american of from 1933. these are saved copies of the newspaper from 1933 but libraries that have them this newspaper could not afford to house them that they throw them now i feel bad they let me take them because they are trying to get rid of them that these are original copies and people have put them on my crawfish but i love history and i am slow i should have thrown it out. >>host: could you open that up? >> it is very tender. march 25, 1933 the afro-american. >>host: they would just throw these the way?
>>guest: much of it is on microfilm or micro fish and they don't have space for the kind of a temperature sensitive place to hold it and knoll library apparently wants it because again these are tough economic times nobody is grabbing onto these old newspapers if it cannot be stored on computer, and nobody will take it so i saved it. [laughter] >> here is one that i treasurer laurence fishburne the after a one-man show on broadway a few months ago based on the life of thurgood marshall and as you can see coming he signed this for me and invited me to come and when i went backstage he produced this and gave me his signature and i treasure it thank you so much mr. fishburne. it is a pretty neat piece.
>>host: you have your book covers over year? >>guest: i do. when you're bookstores -- book comes out of several bookstores have sent them to me so i frame them. this is the thurgood marshall but cover -- book cover here is eyes on the prize. my soul looks back and wonder. a note from nelson mandela and his wife. when i had gone to south africa in 1990 at the time of his release from prison. he had read eyes on the prize while he was in prison for but ended up meeting with him and helped him to write some notes to people as he was leaving present thinking them for their support and it was one of the highlights of my
>>host: as we continue our conversation with juan williams i will begin with something that you wrote most recently in which you call it affirmative action and untimely obituary at the age of 45 is dead. explain. >>guest: look at the recent case, the recent decision and the ricci case, what you have is the supreme court essentially saying if you have a disparate impact, not necessarily the basis to make a decision that it won't be this but subject to reverse discrimination and if you have a test test that will have a
negative impact on the sillier of blacks and therefore are not qualify the blacks could file suit, in the past you would say we will throw the test out and throw quote start over that were allowed a larger mix of people and more appropriate mix to succeed but in this case the court said the white firefighters who studied hard dessert to have their individual rights protected despite the history patterns of discrimination or of sense of minority and leadership in that town. that's undermines all affirmative-action efforts because anybody can say the test is taken it is what it is a and is certain people are promoted and other people are not i do not like that test therefore i do not think it is legitimate so for a lot of
private employers i think those who make legitimate efforts they will say we do not need to engage in an affirmative action right now. sandra day o'connor said in 2003 at the time of the michigan case she thought affirmative action its had 25 years but it turned out was only nine years of your a public-sector employer they may be political pressures that remain to do more by the then there the fear that claims that that claims will be so large it will strangle or choke at any affirmative action efforts. >>host: you say that with the jobless rate in this country it doubled for african-americans and 1/3 higher for latinos. >>guest: correct if you look at the top of the economic
structure, the doctors, lawyers, engineers you're only talking between three or 6% with blacks and latinos. there is still a long way to go to make sure everybody has a sense the doors are open to succeed in that society. apparently the court has undermined that know we have to make sure individual rights are protected and the need to address the history of legal discrimination to close those stores really is not an because there with protecting individual rights against being judged on the basis of race. affirmative action came into being largely because the president, congress and the courts said we will try to do some things to rectify the imbalance as president johnson said you cannot put to be bought the starting line 12 kussman eating well, well nourished and in training then
bring out a survey who was locked in shackles and deprived of some light and food and say let's have a fair race. you have to build up the other person and i think the courts have said now we do not see any type of political mandate four that build up at this point* everybody is on their own that is why i think affirmative action is dead. >>host: what time of day are you most productive? >>guest: it goes in cycles. i am productive in the morning right after i eat breakfast but because i was trained as a newspaper reporter from the time, i told you with my high school paper but even then i was writing for a small paper there that did not cover the black community i would cover the black community so if i am writing something i know i will be very productive between five and seven and that is because 7:00 is the
deadline for most first edition and i am accustomed to being under pressure and writing between five and a cefaclor but when i work on books i anticipate i will have burst in the morning and the burst in the afternoon and ironically i will have a burst when i am really tired getting to be at 10 or 11 i don't know why but i can focus but that is another burst of productivity. >>host: tell us about your family 81 my family i have created as a human being? my wife and i have been married 31 years married in 1978. a native washingtonian and fifth generation i believe i met her in what was a disco now you would call a club.
>>host: now you are dating yourself. do they still have discos? [laughter] >>guest: not any more. >>host: do you remember the music? >>guest: no. this would be donna summer and stuff like that. we have three kids. my son 29 lives in philadelphia and government relations for comcast with set headquarters, my daughter is a lawyer in san francisco with paul hastings and my youngest, a 20, is a rising junior at college in pennsylvania. >>host: comcast one of the biggest supporters of what we do here at c-span could afternoon. >> caller: good afternoon. i hope i have a good amount of
time as for affirmative action and it is necessary when you have people like lilly ledbetter i am sure you are familiar with the case and those way to gentlemen in the other case there was one hispanico wanted to get that clear to help you out with the reporting. the main purpose of my call was the 9/11 tapes and the police report concerning the officer in massachusetts and the professor. in the police report it was shown that the officer had dr. someone had doctored the report showing there is a disparity when it comes to police police same property and given an a the truth that can coincide with a gentleman calling earlier about the high rate of minorities having records because some of it is
doctored and you arrest them like the professor was arrested on the false pretense only they are not let go because they don't have high-profile people behind them. and none of the media focus on the police report being doctored. >>guest: what are you talking about? the only thing i know the woman who called and said he did not identify the house going into the house were black but it that this sergeant crowley said they were black. >>guest: that is not doctored he said that when he was the right on the scene. >>guest: he says he was told whether he spoke to her i don't know. >>guest: nido see it is a big point*. >>host: we have an e-mail
that you have information on four white kids how they fare in the adult world do poor white parents approach property and education and differently than poor black parents? >>guest: this is a very intriguing point* and their riders working on this topic and what you will see poor white kids are struggling just as much as poor black kids with the family breakdown issues that you see and refocus on in black america because it is a larger percentage also especially with low income whites. we are quick in this country to go to the racial narrative and talk about black versus white if that would be so eliminating but what is going on inside white america it is deeply troubling if you were to go back to moynahan prediction of eight out of wedlock community which led
people to disparage moynahan and call him a racist those are now far exceeded, are also exceeded in the white community where 2728% are born out of wedlock today and if you talk about six us cents goals white boys are struggling, not as much as the minorities but it is evident as terms of dropout rates, achievement, and this is a real issue but sometimes because we get locked into the big picture of black versus white we lose what is happening in particular segments of our population and what poor whites right now or working-class whites there is a tremendous struggle taking place. >>host: how do you change the culture in which you have a single mother with children and you know, the statistics are for those children that broke without a father what it means for their own education
and drug use come a crime? >>guest: this change by the way charles murray who is known as a writer in terms of race relations and controversial is doing eight subject book on this situation. how do you change the culture? we have people speak to it. there is a reluctance to speak against the culture tests you are not hip or with it because if you turn on the tv was on the video or in the music i think the things that are celebrated, the idea of what it means to be mailed, in touch, a woman, the acceptance of failure bad behavior not to be a nerd but at some point* those become debilitating if
you were holding that up as a model for young people who don't have the intact family and lacking in terms of role models or so much to discipline that will have real consequence but that is on 24/7. people who could speak up, the lady called earlier and said jesse jackson for her is an inspiring figure because he speaks about things that are across racial lines i want to give credit to jesse jackson because he does those things but i am saying i thought he could be so much more in terms of a powerful elected official speaking to issues using his stature to address issues of substance and the nitty gritty, not just us some one who was speaking to grievance and pointing a finger at the white community. >>host: he begins by saying i am your brother from another brother but interested in your thoughts on the issue of out
of wedlock parents about the congressional caucus, do you think they are affected in dealing with some of these issues? >>guest: it depends on the issue i would say i don't see anybody right now. i view of bill cosby with his comments and thing he has done. i think you are getting somebody who is challenging and speaking up and who says we have a problem and we can deal with it if we pay attention. i do not see that coming from the politicians. if you're asking me in dealing with the larger systemic issues to see the professional black caucus taking a lead? no. in terms of being a political force on the hill, yes. they are a force to be dealt with if you get them on the
same page what you are getting is a sizable voice even in terms of the health-care debate when we felt that too many concessions were being made to the conservatives and that argument there boise merge to say we see the need for counterbalance and put pressure on the democratic balance and in the senate and we will see how would expands to the white house if we get a health care bill. they have some political voice but they don't take enough risk and dealing with the larger issues of i am critical of for not stepping out on. >>host: the co-author of six books a recent columnist to "the washington post" come on national public radio also on the fox news channel, joining us from tennessee, good morning for good afternoon. >> caller: mr. williams, i
would like to comment you and thank you for going on fox tv and standing up for those people but also to point* out to them they have run up the debt and on health care, if they took the surplus money on a social security we would not have to worry about health care. >>guest: that is true. >> caller: they key for standing up to them we need to pointed out. we had no debt win it reagan came into office to abolish the board of education with the things they have done and they don't take credit for none of it. >>guest: it is a one-sided argument sometimes. to do what you just describe to challenge a lot of orthodoxy that comes from the right i give credit to fox because they put up with me.
it allows the debates that people love to watch. they do for giving me a little encouragement. >>host: we have come up with previous interviews has anybody ever told you what to say? >>guest: no. i think they enjoy i am unpredictable and they will not know what i say i really am train is a reporter not an ideologue by do not speak out in a sense of caring of life the ink i will tell you how might interpret or understand in my mind given my experience. i do not come to the tabor within a political slant i have been in situations where i was working where they will say if you are in a debate format, you have got to be the black liberal and i say i am not opposed i do not speak for all black people i speak for
me and my experience and people who will to reporting and writing with a conclusion. but that is two i am. i do not try to be the racial spokesperson. writing or your thinking? >> guest: well, you must remember -- i mean, the kind of books that thrilled me -- i grew up in new york city. and i grew up in new york city at a time when there were so many newspapers i think people forget, you know, that there were in the '60s there were six or seven newspapers in new york city. and so i'm reading everything at that time. the books then that i was reading as a young person -- i have a love for fiction but in terms of the nonfiction stuff, you know, early on, teddy white. i remember reading teddy white making of the president.
to me that was a breakthrough book. look at that, we've never seen covers from that and you come forward with that with david hallberstam's book. to see how power operates in this country. another book that had a real impact was robert caro's book by robert moses because again i love the idea that you help people to see how power really works in american society. growing up as a poor black kid in brooklyn, it was always a question who gets their streets cleaned and paved? you know, who gets to send their kids to and good schools. who has access to powerful people to politicians. you know, who gets bridges built as opposed to highways put through their neighborhood. and even -- and that's what that book says to me. good reporting can help people
to understand the power brokers in their lives and so i always thought that was just marvelous. and, of course, you come forward and you get to the watergate era with woodward and bernstein and getting behind the veil to see power as it operates and power as it corrupts. to me, you know, that's thrilling stuff. i think that's what journalism should be about. >> host: i'm going to give you a moment to think about this next question. one or two figures in american history would you want to interview and what would be your first question? think about that and we'll go to betty in nashville, tennessee. with juan williams. >> caller: good afternoon, gentlemen. juan, i have the utmost respect for you and i love you much. but i would just like to make a couple of comments. >> guest: sure. >> caller: i know you're a commentary on fox news but why isn't there ever talk in reference to the divisiveness that comes to fox news in racism and their speeches that come off of fox news toward the president.
>> host: caller, how so specifically? >> caller: like the comment that glenn beck made that the president was racist, the comments that come from billy o'reilly, the comments that come from sean hannity and you never, ever hear anyone stand up and speak out on behalf of the president. >> host: we'll get a response. thank you. >> guest: hang on, betty 'cause i think -- i think if i'm there, i certainly -- you know, i make fun of sean hannity for just always being critical of the president and always seeing the negative side. i mean, you know, sean is my friend and he and i will go at it and there's nobody telling me what to say -- to pick up something on what steve was asking earlier. it's a free for all and clearly he's trying to represent a conservative point of view and he does so with full throat and full body. and bill o'reilly the same thing. o'reilly will say outrageous things at times but i don't know why you would say racist.
i don't know if that's fair. i feel such respect for those two guys. if i saw that, i would say, you've gone over a line. i just know those people well enough to feel personally comfortable. but you know what i hear all the time is just what you're saying. that fox is so critical of president obama. always on him. always pointing out the negative, always trying to tear him down. why does fox do that and this? and i think there is, you know, a conservative opposition to program. i think that fox is getting huge ratings playing to that audience and people who are in the anti-obama audience talk about, you know, socialism, big government, tax and spend -- all the kind of cliches that are attached to any democrat but a liberal democratic politician and i think race does play into it and can easily become one of the focal points with this fixation with where was he born
and all this kind of thing. but, you know, oftentimes i think people in terms of the political debate that -- you know, the intense political anger at george bush, don't forget about that -- i don't know that we would say it's antiwhite but i think in this situation because president obama is the first black president, some people take it personally, see it as antiblack. when it crosses that line, i'm with you. that's why i think calling him a racist -- i don't know where this came from. but in terms of simply being terrifically critical and constantly critical of the president, well, there's always going to be a political opposition and it's just that in this case, i think, you know, there are people who want to be protective of the first black president. >> a former colleague of your at "washington post" on the 2008 campaign -- in the book barack obama said that he gave himself
a 25 to 30% chance of being elected president. when he announced in february of 2007, did you think he would be the 44th president? >> guest: no. i would have guessed hillary clinton would have been the democratic nominee. and i thought there would be a struggle. between hillary clinton. i wasn't even sure that john mccain -- remember john mccain had such trouble out of the box, i wasn't sure he was going anywhere. so i wouldn't have picked either of those two, obama or mccain, as the eventual nominees of their party. and i remember i wrote in a column in the "new york times" early on that the black community needed to do more to support barack obama. that he's the kind of politician who had cross-over potential and why was this kind of knee-jerk support for hillary clinton at that time. you know, that wouldn't it be great to have a black president? wouldn't that be kind of a next step in terms of progressive black politics in the country?
shouldn't there be more support for this young man even though he hadn't come through the civil rights movement or the black pulpit. and i remember some of the black caucus why are you wasting the ink, you know, everybody is on board for hillary because the black caucus at that time was all in support of hillary clinton. so, no, i wouldn't have predicted eventually he would have made his way through. although now i find myself on the other end. like with the last caller saying, you know, he's the president. he's going to be criticized. he makes political moves and an adept political player. he's going to get beat up at times and at times he's going to do the beating up. it's not all racial. even in the kinds of hypercritical coverage of him, it's not necessarily that he's black. it could be that people just don't like his agenda and don't like his liberalism. >> host: you struck a chord because we're getting a lot of emails. this is from lewis wang who says number one golfer in the world, tiger woods and oprah winfrey, barack obama is president.
why doesn't an educated person jump to the conclusion that he is being racial profiled without any evidence and then this question does the black community have a chip on its shoulders? >> guest: well, i think it has a legitimate sense that historically they've been treated unfairly. we've been treated unfairly. racial profiling is a real issue in american society. why president obama and professor gates thought this was an example of example racial profiling. i think president obama didn't have the facts with him when he spoke. he didn't know what was going on. even the day after he was interviewed he said would a guy who caucus with a cane and in middle aged and not being arrested. he wasn't arrested for the break-in or for anything in the house. he was arrested for the verbal disorderly conduct that the officer, sergeant crowley, had been directed toward at him. there is a sense of always --
and i think this is especially true with the older generation of always feeling as if we're suspect, that we're not treated fairly, that you have to guard your rights. that you have to speak loudly to have yourself recognized. to have your intelligence acknowledged. to have your accomplishments appreciated. that that's part of being black in america for some people. so if that's a chip on the shoulder, i agree. but i will say this, that when it comes to trying to stand up and be a leader on the issue of race in american society, in general, people tend to silence because i think if you're white, people are afraid they're going to be called a racist. even sergeant crowley, someone who was involved with training and dealing with racial profiling, look at how, you know, quickly he gets put in the position of being caricatured as some white racist cop.
and apparently according to his black colleagues and even the people he's trained and known him for years, that's not who this man is. and then if you're black and you say something that's about race in american society, the people say you always want to talk about race. you've got a chip on your shoulder. you're just obsessed with race when, in fact, you know, to be black in america is to understand that dealing with race and assumptions attached to you because of your race, you know, i'm sitting here as an author but i think most people watching say that's a black author and he's written books about black history so it's not just -- so race is part of the deal. it's part of the story. >> host: have you personally been a victim of prejudice. >> guest: of course, i'm an american and i understand how it works. you know, what's interesting, steve, when the story with professor gates broke -- professor gates i would consider a friend. i like professor gates. he's been very supportive of me.
i was reminded of an incident at my own home and the police showed up and the panic button had been pushed in the house -- >> host: one off;z your kids. >> guest: or one of the dogs. >> host: did they fess up to it? >> guest: no the police come and they want to know who i am. officer, i'm going to go get my wallet. you can come with me 'cause i'm trying to diffuse the situation. and then they wanted to know -- they went through the exact same scenario that played out for gates except mine was my alarm had gone off in the house and i'm unaware of it and the alarm company had called to say it had gone off and the police showed. to me, my whole instinct in that situation was to just help the cops, as respectful as possible and have this episode over with. i don't want it to go on. i grew up in brooklyn in the
'60s and early '70s and my experience with cops oftentimes was not a happy one. they have a lot of testosterone and need to determine their authority and suspicious of me as a black person. and as a black male in specific. here i was in my house and you could say there's no reason -- i don't know what's going on. why are the cops here, et cetera. but my whole instinct and this is what i teach with my kids. deal with the cops in such a way as to make them comfortable and help them understand that this is not a problem and that you are there as a citizen who, in fact, is a supporter of the police and appreciates the fact that they've come to your house or stopped your car for whatever danger may exist. but i don't think professor gates behaved that way in that instance. >> host: our next call is from brooklyn. constance is on the phone. >> caller: hello from a fellow
brooklynite, although i'm only 23 years old i can describe your background coming from the caribbean and the research that i found some of my relatives from barbados and jamaica worked in panama at times. that was also interesting and i attended prep schools starting in the seventh grade. you have addressed some of this but i want to make two main points. first of all, i respect and have a great deal of admiration and most of the time concur of what bill cosby is saying but i get annoyed when it's a problem in black america when it's really a problem with a certain socioeconomic subset of black america that as you referred to earlier, with many of the same issues that go on with the same subset in white america. and also in the aftermath of the gates incident, i've seen a sort of intellectual dishonesty from gates himself to a certain
>> host: i'll stop you there. there's a lot for juan williams to respond to. >> guest: yeah. again, no, the way the attack on someone like colin powell for simply pointing out what most black people tell their own kids which is, you know, yes, there's an added burden in dealing with the police. there's a history here. there's assumptions on their side and your side. just try to, you know, low-key it. let the cop know i'm reaching for my wallet, sir, you know. let them know what you're doing while you're doing it and whatever happened and you understand their situation. try to be empathetic. someone said to me the other day -- they said, you know, it's just not fair that black people have to put up with that kind of pressure that, you know, in that situation, assumptions being made professor gates was in his own home and why can't he speak in an aggressive manner to a policeman. without fear of getting arrested in his own home?
and i said well, i guess, that's a good point, you know, you have your first amendment rights and you can say what you want to say to people. but my experience, my real world experience is, i don't know that many white guys who would think they could speak aggressively to a cop and expect to get away with it. gene robinson, a very able columnist at the "washington post" wrote that what if professor -- it hadn't been professor gates. what if it had been larry summers, former president of harvard and now the economic advisor. and he said they're both arrogant men but what if the arrogant man was a white man? would the sergeant have arrested the arrogant white man? well, we'll never know. but i can tell you as a black person i would assume that there's a greater likelihood that the arrogant black person is going to get arrested. but i appreciate what the caller says because there's -- then inside the black community colin powell gets called an uncle tom. i mean, how bizarre is that because he reflected the idea,
you know, black people do have this higher obligation of trying to deal with cops in such a way that situations don't get out of control. because, you know, who wants to end up in handcuffs on the front page is what happened to professor gates. >> host: steven from newark, new jersey. go ahead, please. >> caller: am-i -- am i on the air? >> host: yes. >> caller: i must address with something a caller brought up. they asked about bill o'reilly and sean hannity. you claim they are great guys and friends of yours. why have i never, ever you criticized with the racist things that they said. bill o'reilly on a number of occasions has referred to mexican people as wetbacks. you know that's a filthy racist term. >> guest: i never heard that. i'll check it. i don't know that one for a fact. if i heard it i would have said something to him about it. >> caller: will you check it out and promise to write about it and go on the record and also
what about the comment that he made about black kids stealing hub caps when he was addressing a thing of inner city youth, a charity, he said i wonder if any of these kids are stealing hub caps. you didn't hear that comment? and what about sean hannity? sean hannity is very polite with the david duke of the east coast. why don't you criticize them for this and can you please also address the sexual harassment charges against you at the "washington post" in the '90s which you apologized for. can you tell us what were the details of those and why did you also say that michelle obama -- >> guest: i don't know this thing about wetbacks. i don't know what to say about that. and then he said that sean hannity is friends with bob grant. i've done his show. i don't know.
he said bob grant is a cantankerous -- he said a racist. if you had a specific short of that, i know that bob grant's tough law and order guy if that's what you're after. what else was i asked about there. bill o'reilly i remember once being involved in a controversy where o'reilly had gone up to a restaurant in harlem with sharpton, with al sharpton and afterwards had said it turned out to be a fine restaurant and all the rest and people said that's a crazy assumption. what had happened i was on the air with o'reilly and we were talking about a rapper and the rapper, you know, was making all kinds of profane statements and using the "n" word and all the rest. and o'reilly had said, you know, he had gone up to harlem and had a great time and had been to an anita baker concert and had a great time and subsequent to that, everybody was all over him in saying that he was racist, and again, you know, understanding that to my mind it was the rapper who was engaged
in the most negative racial stereotypes and advancing those stereotypes and o'reilly was trying to disabuse people that's the reality of black life in america. that he was saying there's nobody cursing at me at sylvia's. nobody threatening me at sylvia's. i'm at a concert, an anita baker concert having a great time and nobody is shouting out or calling anybody a ho or anything like that. i thought bill o'reilly was saying, hey, you know what? black life in america is varied and healthy and beautiful and the cuisine and delicious and he was caricatured. and o'reilly says things to be provocative. that's what the show is. but he's not a racist. and then people attack me for saying, wait, what are you now? you're just defending this crazy right wing bill o'reilly. so it's an untenable situation. and then -- he said something
about hub caps. i'm not sure. i think o'reilly was speaking to some group -- i don't know the details of that one so i better leave it alone. and then the caller said something about sexual harassment. in the midst of the clarence thomas hearings back in the early '90s when i was -- as i said earlier in the show i had known clarence thomas from the time he came to washington at the education department, eeoc and i had written a lengthy profile from the atlantic monthly and i was in japan, and so people were calling me and especially people who didn't want him to have a seat on the court. and it turned out -- naacp initially was quite supportive of clarence thomas. the opposition cass from women's groups and all of a sudden they were pressuring people and then out of the woodwork came anita hill. and in the midst of the whole
thing juan tells dirty jokes and flirts with women and it became fodder of "the washington post." what came of it i apologized to anybody i offended with my off-color humor but that was about it. >> host: let me go back to the book because there's emails and whether nelson mandela and bishop tutu is more representative in the behavior envisioned in dr. king the email talking about al sharpton and jesse jackson. in other words, comparing them versus mandela and tutu. is that, again, these are the words of the viewer is that more representative of the behavior that dr. king envisioned? >> guest: boy, that's a tough one. is that a twitter --. >> host: it's an email. an old-fashioned email. >> guest: what a world. >> host: do you twitter by the way? >> guest: no, i don't. scott simon at npr is always chiming me that i need to twitter.
he does it very successfully. i think the problem with the email well, these are all black people and is this dr. king but the situations are so different dealing with apartheid and mandela stand, tutu stand in that kind of tremendous violence and government pressure versus the era that sharpton and jackson live in today and the issues that they're dealing with not only in terms of the racism but the problems inside the black community -- i mean, they're just apples and oranges to my mind as i sit here. but if you're asking me about dr. king's willingness to make personal sacrifice and to stand up for what's right and what i notice in the case of tutu and mandela is they stood up for what's right at great risk to themselves and also then spoke to their own followers about what was right. that's in the tradition of dr. king. that's why i find king such a fascinating, inspiring figure. and then that's where i see
failure in terms of the sharptons and the jacksons. you know, kind of moving beyond self-interest or moving beyond the easy finger-pointing to deal with the deeply ingrained issues that i think define need in our time for the people who are most vulnerable. >> host: reporter juan williams has the chance to sit down with any figure in american or world history. who is that person or persons and what do you ask them? >> guest: well, i tell you i'm a big fan of abe lincoln for so many reasons. i guess i would have to, you know, try to understand abe lincoln so to my mind i would want to know about abe lincoln and the shaping of america as it is today. where would abe lincoln not limited by his time but really having vision, where would abe lincoln see america heading as a multiracial multiethnic society?
i don't know that, you know, obviously he was a creature of his period so it's a little bit impractical for me to ask this question. but simply trusting in what is evidently his tremendous intelligence, again, the possibility of people moving away from racial identity and identity politics. how would his mind play with identity politics as we know it today with, you know, people appealing, you know, they'll say, hey, steve scully, i bet he watches c-span. i bet he's a white male. i bet he drinks beer, watches espn, you know, i bet he drives this kind of car and lives in this neighborhood, so many kids. what if we moved away from those politics. is america bound to simply repeat a cycle of more and more such politics or is it possible that our politics evolve? that to me -- because if you look at red state/blue state,
urban/rural -- all these kinds of things, it seeming to me at some point it takes away from our politics and not allowing political discourse in this country. where would his mind -- it's his 200th birthday so i'm taken with abe lincoln. >> host: we listen to kenneth from ohio, north canton, ohio, go ahead. >> caller: yes, mr. williams. i would just like to ask you isn't it great to be able to finish your sentences on a show than like the bill o'reilly show? >> guest: yeah, it's kind of different, isn't it? >> caller: yeah. i noticed mr. o'reilly, whenever he'll say oh, this person won't come on our show, i put it to you that they won't go on the show because they can't finish a sentence. not that they're afraid of him like he claims.
and i'm a disabled vietnam veteran and i get tired of hannity, o'reilly, glenn beck, rush limbaugh claiming all the time how patriotic they were. i just wonder when they became patriotic because they obviously weren't patriotic enough when they were younger to serve in the military. >> host: kenneth, stay on the line because i'm going to ask juan williams this question and you can weigh in as well. i think we've had almost as many questions about your role at fox news as we have on your books. has that surprised you? >> guest: no. you know, i'm a little bit of a walking test and people come to know me in that environment. and so it's -- you know, the readers -- i've written several bestselling books at this point but even with a bestselling book, which i guess means it sold more than 50 or 60,000
copies when it's in hardcover, the more people who know me and have them as a regular presence in their home through npr and that audience is massive, you know, it's about 14 million people for "morning edition" and then through fox news which bill o'reilly can be 3 or 4 million so it's not -- and if i walk around town, i must tell you, steve, it's juan williams, it's nice to meet you. and another guy will say aren't you the guy on fox news. i hit different audiences and people who care about history, they tend not to be in the majority, but when they stop me, i'm most thrilled of all. >> host: did you want to respond to that as well? >> caller: yes, i agree with juan. but like i said, i just get tired of the o'reilly, hannity, beck and limbaugh where they'll is a, oh, you're a left wing
alone. i've always been a conservative. but enough -- you just you get tired of the nonsense. it just becomes intolerable after a while where you just quit watching them. >> host: well, thank you for watching us here on c-span2's book tv. >> guest: people get frustrated and fed up with that kind of presentation. i think their personality presentations of the news but there's a lot of americans who find that very entertaining and sort of fascinating. that's tv that for them is illuminating because you have these intense debates as the caller said, you know, you
charged with rioting and attempted murder. this was the start of a 45-mile ride that he took back to nashville every night because they feared they would be killed if they laid down to sleep in columbia, tennessee. >> guest: it's a tremendous story -- >> host: well, tell the story. >> guest: columbia, tennessee, and there had been a sailor who had come home and lived in a neighborhood, mink sly is what it was called, a derogatory name for this black section of columbia. and a radio was broken and he'd taken it down to get it fixed and the white radio repairman had been rude and not fixed when they went back and they paid for it and a fight had ensued and that leads to charges that, you know, this black man had attacked this white man and then there were attacks of the whites with guns coming into the black
community and the black community shooting at the police -- just a horrible situation. thurgood marshall ends up representing the sailor. and working with lawyers who at the time were in nashville, you know, z. alexander luby and others and there were reporters -- they all refused to stay in columbia because it's not far from polaski, tennessee, which is where the klan got their start. they're getting in there at night. they're living in fear that they're going to be attacked if they stay there for too long. there's not even places that are willing to serve them food as they're trying to represent their client. they get a change of venue for the trial and all but one night when driving back, marshall, who was not -- i'm trying to remember if he was driving -- he's not driving. he's in the backseat. the car is stopped and there's -- by the police, this
all-white police force in this small town on the highway heading back to nashville. and when they stop them, they find a reason then to take thurgood marshall out of the car and they put him in a separate car charging that he's drunk. but that police car circles around and goes down by the river and thurgood marshall sees there's another group of men waiting there and he thinks he's about to be lynched but luckily the people in the first car had not simply left after the police took marshall away. but circled back and followed the police and so as they're about to take marshall out of the car down by the river, here comes these other guys and they put marshall back in the car and circle back to the town center in columbia, tennessee, take him before a judge and according to marshall, the judge said, what's this fellow here for? and they said drunkenness, public drunkenness and the judge asked marshall to breathe on him and said that he could tell if a
man had a drink in the last eight hours and marshall breathed on him and he said he's not drunk. and then marshall and his friends fled. >> host: in fact, you say that thurgood marshall was worried that the police was going to plant evidence on him or in the car. >> guest: correct. >> host: that he circled the car that didn't happen. >> guest: absolutely, before he got out of town. >> host: our next call is from san diego with juan williams. welcome to the program. >> guest: --. >> caller: good afternoon, c-span. i have a book with all your efforts with the naacp your spirit in mind is a gift. justice marshall would be proud. mr. williams, that's from 10 years ago you autographed my copy of my book. you've done a remarkable job with your career. >> guest: thanks. >> caller: i had a couple of questions andvp --. >> host: how about if we take one at a time. >> caller: okay. the leadership, the
leadership -- i'd say there's a leadership void between the jesse jacksons and the al sharptons and then the bill cosbys and let's say yourself, mr. williams. i believe there's a void in leadership between those two ends of paradigm, if you will. >> guest: uh-huh. >> caller: so i hold onto the second question? >> host: yeah, we'll get response to that point first. >> guest: i was waiting for the caller to continue because i was thinking -- what does he mean a void? if the two ends of the conversation are people saying we've got to hold white america responsible for all the problems of black america and then people who are saying the cosbys and i think you're putting me in this class there are opportunities for black america to help itself or individuals to exercise personal responsibility in terms of improving their own circumstance, are those the two polls? you're saying there's a vacuum in the middle? >> caller: i'm sorry i put you in the group with mr. cosby. >> guest: no, i'm a great admirer of bill cosby.
>> caller: the question, it would be basically there is a void in the middle. in other words,ycq with leader. strong, well thought out ideas articulated. a little bit more left to the either ends of that spectrum. >> guest: here's the thing -- here's where i would differ with you. i don't think cosby -- and i know it's not the case with me would say that there isn't problems in terms of systemic discrimination or systemic racism, you know, stereotypes for black americans, hispanic americans, women in society that people have to overcome a lot of those limits and if you're talking about being a kid -- we were talking earlier about children, justice marshall saying to me at one point, you know, if he had new energy he would have gone on to do more in terms of children's rights in the country -- if a kid goes to bad schools is, caught in a bad neighborhood, a lot of those things just weigh on a child.
comes from a broken family it's hard for that kid to succeed. when i say we need to pay attention to those issues, that's a big systemic issue. it's not a matter of all the other. it's just when i say we need to do a better job of paying attention to issues that we can help ourselves with or with personal responsibility saying that there has to be a balance and i don't see the jacksons and the sharptons willing to ever say, hey, you know what? we have a hand here and we can help ourselves. >> host: in your book you talk about the miracles many contributors to this peace saw and witnessed. but in your words you say, quote, as we open our eyes to the power of race in american society, we begin to perceive the impact of class and gender as well. dropping the blinders reveals how often we heap disdain on the elderly, people with aids, people with little education seeing clearly is the first step in an individual's transformation, martin luther
king, jr., often preached about the power of transformation. >> guest: he did. i think this is the key. it's interesting, david halberstam wrote the forward to this book. david makes the case that really what we're talking about here is citizen movement. how do you get citizen movement going? and he says that's the organization, coalition, all this kind of thing. and my sense of it is, change comes largely through transformation. through personal transformation. i think as people are transformed -- it's not about me getting steve scully to think differently or to say, steve, you're wrong and i'm right, i think that if it's the case that i am able to demonstrate some transformation on my part and to appeal to you through my behave and thinking and debate and all the rest, i think that is what is truly transformative and i think that's the start of social
change in our country and the start of social movement. and in that book, it's largely stories of individuals who have this transformative moment, this transformative experience and it comes in some surprising ways. i love that book because it's done with people who was working as a team put together by aarp as part of their voices of civil rights program. and what really is great to me is you run into people like -- there's a wrestler in there who advertises himself as 200 pounds of steel and sex appeal. you know, and he's a white wrestler in the south but he's oftentimes playing the villain and so he found that a lot of the black customers were rooting for him and -- but his black fans were always put in the black section and so he begins to argue with the promoters for integrated seating 'cause he wants his fans all around the arena and in the lower seating area and then decides he's not going to wrestle unless there's
integrated seating. this is the least likely person you think is involved in some kind of civil rights effort but, in fact, that's the case. or you stop and think -- my favorite -- one of my favorite stories is about a woman who had a blood clot on her spine and wakes up and finds herself disabled and that woman, you know, after she's disabled becomes the person who leads to ramps being put on buildings, steps that go down on buses to allow disabled people to get on buses more easily. to me, the fact that she, you know -- when people think now she's not going to be able to do anything, she's totally disabled and paralyzed by this blood clot. look who becomes the agents of change and it was a personal transformation and she begins to reach out and promote social change and accomplishes it in a way that we just accept as a reality. every building we go into and every bus we see but again, these are the stories of personal transformation.
that book i find -- we were talking about eyes on the prize", this book is broken up by small individual stories and all the time school kids will say to me, hey, what about -- and, you know, bring up people like b.b. king and others. what about that woman? where's that woman today? what happened to that kid? i guess they identify with the individuals much more than the large telling of history. they identify with the characters. >> host: this photograph from the march on washington includes a number of white faces in a sea of black people. >> guest: uh-huh. >> host: what do you think it was like for these white people to be at that march in 1963? >> guest: from what i heard it was a very happy time. and i think that the people who were there earlier in the program, steve -- we were talking about the roots of the '63 march in washington and bringing together the leaders of civil rights groups but religious organizations, unions.
and so the people who arranged to come often -- they came by buses i must tell you and it was very, you know, programmed how they would get in and be there that one day and they would leave that night. the government was so afraid of violence for that occasion. and i think a lot of the whites who came saw it as an occasion in which they felt safe not only to make their petition to the government, to the federal government in terms of wanting equal rights for all and civil rights but felt that they were among friends and that a lot of the kind of racial fears that might attach in a normal situation like that dissolved. that people really felt it was, you know, sort of a moment of, you know, heaven on earth or however you want to put it. but a moment of community in service to this larger social civil rights cause. >> host: our next caller is joining us from hartford,
connecticut with juan williams. luisa, go ahead, please. >> caller: yes, mr. williams, i believe fox news is fortunate to have you because you are fair and balanced. >> guest: oh, thanks. >> caller: and i also grew up in brooklyn. i even remember the newspaper, the eagle. >> guest: oh, yeah. >> caller: i'm a bit older than you but i have a comment and a question regarding malcolm x. i remember when malcolm x addressed the crowds in harlem telling them to boycott businesses that were charging the poor black communities -- overcharging the poor black communities and, yes, malcolm x was angry and his early speeches were fiery and at times antagonistic towards whites but he did speak truth to power. he went from a troubled youth who served time in prison to becoming an impressive leader, a good family man and a man of religious faith but my question
is, there's been much attention and teachings and rightfully so about dr. martin luther king in our schools and the media. but not very much about malcolm x. do you think it's because malcolm x was a muslim? that he wasn't given as much attention as dr. king who was a christian? >> guest: well, yeah, but two things to say. i'm interested in your response. one is that if you look at malcolm x, i think the alex haley book, the autobiography of malcolm x i think it's in most curriculums. i think high school kids read it all the time and malcolm x is celebrated in that regard. you know, in harlem there's a malcolm x boulevard. i think people are aware of malcolm x. i don't think there's any shortage of that and, of course -- spike lee made a move about malcolm x and denzel washington appeared in that movie. is it because of -- he was a
member of the nation of islam and a muslim? again, they were seen as extreme sect at the time. remember, 1960s there were not the number of muslims in the country today and nation of islam had its own issues, of course, with, you know, certainly with louis farrakhan but even going back to, you know, elijah poole and, you know -- and whether or not that was real islam versus -- all those issues are out there. so i think in so many ways malcolm x was a more controversial figure than dr. king. pñ3t@ú for us now the
defiant black voice who was on the street corners in harlem, an important figure in terms of the nation of islam, his willingness to challenge what was going on there. but in terms of civil rights, it's a smaller imprint. he was in the papers occasionally when president kennedy was killed talking about chickens coming home to roost and all that. but dr. king was on the front lines challenging the country from the montgomery boycott through marshall on washington, through selma. there's dr. king, birmingham, all these key moments in american history he is a central player who is not just a man of words, of course, he was a tremendous orator but also a man of action in a way that's hard to contemplate. that's why he wins the nobel peace prize. he's a tremendously important figure in our history far
outstripping malcolm x. >> host: a look at the reading list of juan williams and also some of the books that have influenced his opinion-making writing for "the washington post" and also his contributions to national public radio and the fox newchannel. melissa joining from tusan, arizona. >> caller: i want mr. williams to comment about the important artifact of the gates affair. it wasn't president obama's comment. it was the email that came from the boston policeman. as someone who studied racism and prejudice on the new mexico border and northern ireland. it's hate and racism. not just the repetitious racial epithet notorious jungle bunny park but even mocking african-american dialect in terms of the word ask like a-x
and mocking african-american dialect and hate and racism. i would like mr. williams to comment on it both in terms of the breadth and depth of the human rights movement and where that says where we are today. and secondly he repeated the importance of talking honestly and personally. what was his personal feeling to it. as a child of the '60s in detroit my parents dragged me to civil rights activists so that's a part of my makeup. the email was a punch in the gut for me. >> guest: boston, i always felt uncomfortable. i wrote "eyes on the prize. and kevin said boston is a great place if you're young and white. but i've never met any black person who said boston is a great place to be young, old and black -- i mean, it's always a sense of being an outsider and treated different. >> host: and yet the state's governor is african-american.
>> guest: well, i think times changed. now it's probably better than ever. i think advances have been made if you have duvall patrick on the scene. >> host: and the mayor is -- >> guest: and the president of the united states is black. obviously, times changed and it's important to say with respect to what the caller said that this email caught -- i don't know if it was an email -- was it an email or some sort of traffic, radio traffic -- i don't know. i think it led to the policeman being fired right away. there was an immediate response that this is out of line. this is not what we're dealing with here. this is is not acceptable behavior for a policeman of any kind. and so there was an immediate consequence for that behavior. >> host: do you think we'll ever be a colorblind society? >> guest: i can't imagine that in my lifetime. you know, i mean, it pops newspaper everything from the michael vick story to president obama -- i mean, but, you know,
what? to me it's not about not being color conscious. it's about not being racist. and so for me it's okay for people to know that i'm black and to understand who i am and that history and the things that are going on in my mind as a result of living with that. what's problematic is that people would make judgments about me and who i am and the kind of person i am on the basis of skin color. >> host: arvin from arlington, texas. go ahead, please. >> caller: how are you doing, mr. williams. >> guest: fine, thank you. >> caller: i'm doing fine. i got a couple of questions but i'm going to start with this one because i'm 40 years old and i grew up in the rap era. how do you think we can -- the only thing that i really dislike is that the rappers -- they do capitalize on the stereotypes
but at the same time, they make a lot of money from it. but i would like for them to maybe do more as far as standing up for bigger issues. >> guest: yep. >> caller: and standing up for a lot of issues although they make money from that and that's probably one of the things that i see on them. how do you think we can bridge the gap between your generation and my father's generation or whatever and the generation that's right now which is my generation which is at an age where rap music was an important part of my life. >> guest: rap music is a dominant player. it plays to negative stereotypes. and when you ask people about it, what they say, hey it's crazy bank here. you can make so much money and you start to look at well, why
is this music making money with all of its use of the "n" word and the negative treatment of women? you know, it's a very negative about us, about black people. it's incredibly negative about black people and you see the biggest audience for this stuff, of course, is young white people and then you start to think well, in the midst of their rebellion they get a big kick out of being, you know, seen as rebellion -- rebellious and different and i think they get a big kick out of the -- the boys get a big kick out of the hypersexual, you know, hyperviolence all these things that are very exciting, you know. but it has this horrible aspect which is that it perpetuates the worst beliefs about black people. and the rappers never take responsibility for it. sometimes the rappers say to me, hey, you know, there are some socially conscious rappers out there. but they're always the exception. and, yet, nobody as i say, not in the industry and not the fans
want to deal with this issue. they'll say to me, hey, man, it's just music. why are you listening to the lyrics. words matter. guess what? i'm a writer. words matter to me. i tend to be pretty critical and wish that the rappers were more racially conscious, you know, more aware of who they are and took greater pride. that day hadn't come. >> host: next call is mary from ta-luca lake, california. >> caller: good morning, juan. first i'd like to give you a website. it's called america-highjacked. and i'd like -- you cut off a caller or the -- or someone cut off a caller earlier and you never responded to the question --. >> host: and what was the question. >> caller: well, fox news isn't
mentioning the franklin case and i want to know why --. >> guest: wait a second. what is this case? >> host: you're talking about the story in the "new york times" which i don't know if juan williams has been tracking. >> caller: it was on the front page last week. >> host: why don't we say that for another segment so we can wrap up on the remaining moments in the books for juan williams and so we'll go to carl in houston, texas. go ahead, please. >> caller: yes, sir, we thank you for all you've done with to be news. -- fox news. i want to ask real quickly those people who want barack obama to fail are they unpatriotic? are they american terrorists? >> guest: i don't know. they're certainly political opposition. but you know what i think -- i don't understand why anybody could want the president to fail because he's our president. i don't care if you're from the west or the east, black, white, hispanic, male, female, young,
old. he's the president. we want america to succeed. you would think that's kind of basically you want the economy to recover. you want people to have jobs. so i'm not -- i'm not in with people who wanted george bush to fail. i'm not in with people who want barack obama to fail because, you know, what? they had different political ideologies. but the goal is not to simply have people throwing spit balls at each other. the goal is really to have the country succeed and be safe. it seems pretty simple to me. but, you know, in the kind of media atmosphere we're in, it's easy to lose track of what's important here. >> host: we began with your work on thurgood marshall. i want to conclude with "eyes on the prize". the end of the book is the quote from selma and through the prism of 30 or 40 years later from when the civil rights movement began by 1954, i know one thing we did right was the day we started a fight. keep your eye on the prize, hold on, hold on. >> guest: yeah. this comes from an old gospel song.
it speaks of the black struggle over the years. and the notion that people have voice -- i mean, to me so much of the books i've written i draw on the idea that individuals really stand up and make a difference. against great odds. when all good sense would say to them, you know, you don't have a chance, you know, who are you? you don't have any money. you don't have any political position. you don't have any connections. and yet those people somehow stand up and transform a society. and in the case of the civil rights movement accomplished the greatest social movement the country has ever seen. to me this is astounding american history. it's reaffirming of america in terms of its values, its ideals, the power of the constitution. that to me is the greatest story for any writer any journalist and that's why the story i try to tell in my books. >> host: and we've talked about the books you've written.
what's next? >> guest: i've just taken with the caller. i'm fascinated with malcolm x and i wonder if it's time to look at malcolm x and also given the tremendous diversity of the american population today and it's growing rate, i'm interested in founding fathers of this new america. you know, we've seen books about the founding fathers of america as it emerged in the 1700s, i think this time again to look at a new understanding of founding fathers of this new america and what it represents to the world. >> host: do you find it easy to write about these issues or is it a challenge? >> guest: oh, writing is the greatest intellectual exercise i've ever had, you know, my dad trained boxers. i used to be around people who exercised and had to show tremendous courage under fire. but for me, engaging in a book and the ideas -- getting those ideas to be real on the page so others can understand and engage them, to me takes -- it's my maximum energy.